A business thrives on loyal customers and their loyalty depends on how you make them feel. Customer experience is a huge factor in customer retention and plays an important role at every user-facing point of interaction, especially digital interactions. In the digital realm, customer experience translates to how easily they can access certain information on your website/ app or how delighted they were with the interaction. However, most people tend to assume that a good user interface (UI) will ensure the user experience (UX) would be good. This is incorrect and this article will educate what is UI/UX design, the difference between UI Design & UX Design, and how to use them together to engage your customers.
What is User Interface Design
User interface is all about what your users see on their screen such as the colors, fonts, layouts, visuals, icons, backgrounds, etc. The look, feel, and interactivity of a website or app is considered as the user interface design. It is the concentration of the development, research, content, and layout of a product into creating a consistent, coherent, and aesthetically pleasing interactive experience that visually guides the user through a product’s interface.
What is User Experience Design
User experience design is about creating interactions and products with a human-first approach. User experience transcends digital interactions and deals with the end-user’s interaction with the brand’s products/ services, communication channels, websites, and other avenues. User experience design revolves around how the interaction makes the user feel and how easy the user can accomplish their desired tasks such as:
Making a purchase
Filling a form
Creating an user account
User experience design is not restricted to the visuals & imagery but how it affects the overall feel for the user.
Going by an analogy of a car, the placement of headlights, spoilers, transmission module, and the dashboard design is the user experience design. The seat design, paint color, the rims, position of the handles and the liveries can be considered as user interface design. To keep the customers engaged, UI and UX design needs to work together.
How to use UI and UX together?
In the design process of creating an application or a website, the roles of UX and UI are intertwined. A site or application’s UX elements such as headline, first fold elements, call-to-action, etc., are built on top of its UI design such as layouts, fonts, colors, theme, etc. The overall workflow would be as below:
Initial phase begins with research. To create a delightful user experience for your target audience, it is important to understand what they need. By searching for what are the pain points of the user, current competition scenarios, potential opportunities based on the findings, you can predict the core features needed to be included in the final product. At the end of this phase, key user goals and challenges in the relation to the product are identified.
Building relevant user personas
No two customers are the same and hence when creating something, it is important to ensure the needs of all the potential users are addressed. Hence, to understand the different needs of every potential user, it is crucial to build separate relevant user personas. By building a detailed customer personas that captures demographic, emotional, and personality traits such as preferences, habits, likes, and dislikes, you can refine the initial framework to accommodate the common factors.
Setting up the architecture
The next step, in this process, would be structuring the key information on the website or application for easy consumption. This involves placement of content, hyperlinks, visuals to allow the user to easily navigate through the product/site and accomplish their goals effortlessly.
Designing user flows and wireframes
Once the information architecture is in place, it is time to visualize the path a user would take when browsing the website or using the application. You also need to determine the different starting and destination points they may land at, based on their interactions at every step. Hence you need to create a rough user flow where the user begins at the home page and charts out the path they need to take to reach a specific page. You need to look for interruptions or distractions that may be created and may cause the user to not complete the desired path. A wireframe would allow you to optimally place the various elements from the user viewpoint and create a 2D view of how the website or application would look.
Creating prototype with the UI designer
Based on the created user flow and wireframes, the project is now in the hands of a UI designer, who works their magic in adding flesh and skin to the barebones. They begin with creating a style guide that defines the different color schemes, fonts, logos, icons, and any other visual assets of the business. The style guide also mentions the accessibility design standards to be followed and implementing a brand’s style consistency.